Bengals could reach injury settlement with Bryant

As the curious case of Antonio Bryant drags on, I continue to hear rumblings that the Cincinnati Bengals are considering releasing the player they signed just five months ago.

The Bengals signed Bryant to a four-year, $28 million contract, but might now be willing to cut ties.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora passed on word that, according to his sources, it’s a distinct possibility the Bengals could reach an injury settlement with Bryant, meaning he would never play a down for the team. The Bengals, after giving Bryant nearly $10 million in guarantees, would have to eat a chunk of that money, but their concerns over his effectiveness this season are very real.

Bryant hasn’t taken the field since the first practice of training camp due to lingering issues in the left knee that bothered him throughout the 2009 season. The Bengals have done their part to downplay Bryant’s status, but the vagueness from both sides is only fueling the speculation.

As of last Thursday, Bryant told Bengals.com he hasn’t started running yet, but promised the team’s investment would be worth the cost.

“I’m feeling better, but I really don’t have much to say,” Bryant said. “I’m just trying to be forgotten. It’s hard to forget $7 million. It will be worth it. As soon as I put my feet on the ground, it will be more than worth it.”

Maybe so. But one can only wonder how Bryant passed a physical with the Bengals in the first place. And because Bryant practiced on the first day of camp, he’s not eligible to be placed on the “reserve” PUP list before the start of the regular season, which would give the Bengals a six-week window to start the season without Bryant counting against the 53-player roster.

With Terrell Owens in the mix, the impressive debuts of rookies Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham in the middle of the field and Andre Caldwell in reserve, the Bengals certainly have a lot to think about when it comes to Bryant.

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